Free Michigan Camping? Here’s How.

If you are an outdoor lover, you may be just the person to get free Michigan camping. Maybe you are the person always helping newbies put up their tent or sharing tips on where to see the first Lady’s Slippers along a state park trail? If so, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has a deal for you. Sign up for the Campground Host Program and you can camp in a state park or state forest campground for free.

“Being a campground host combines the fun of camping, with the satisfaction of helping fellow campers,” explained Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. “Hosts stay as our guests and, in return, help welcome other campers to our beautiful settings.”

Just what do you do as a host? The DNR hopes to gear your tasks to your talents and interests, but some of the duties include directing visitors to their campsites, answering questions about the park or state forest and performing some light maintenance. The DNR sees people of all ages as making good hosts—as long as you’re over 18—including retired couples, teachers and students off for the summer or families who make it a family affair.

There is a bit of a commitment. Campground hosts provide services five days/30 hours per week (including weekends and holidays), serve a minimum of four consecutive weeks and furnish their own camping unit, equipment and personal items.

If you think this sounds made for you, act now. While many of last year’s hosts are returning, there are vacancies. But just like good campsites, the great ones go fast.

Information and applications are available from the DNR’s website at: michigan.gov/dnr. From there scroll down to: “Inside the DNR” on the left menu and then to “How Can I Help.” Persons interested in being a campground host at a state park should apply directly to the park of their choice, or contact Monica Terrell at 517-335-3034 for an application and vacancy information. Individuals interested in serving as a state forest campground host should call Ada Takacs at 989-275-5151 ext. 2049.—Deborah Wyatt Fellows

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